New smartphone app gives remote access to heating system

3rd Aug 2012

Previously associated with Sky TV boxes and the like, smartphone apps are starting to be used for many other functions, and one of them is the ability to remotely control your central heating system – courtesy of British Gas.

The new app uses essentially the same technology as that used to control the Sky TV box from your laptop or smartphone. It even includes the ability to switch your boiler on or off via text message, something that could be really handy if you get to work and remember that you’ve forgotten to switch your boiler off or turn the heating down. This means that these new apps could in theory save you money on your central heating bills, something that we should all be very conscious of these days.

Remote Central Heating Control works around a central thermostat which can be controlled remotely in addition to all the normal functions of other thermostats. This is because the thermostat is fitted with a wireless receiver which receives commands and adjusts the settings accordingly. Both the thermostat and boiler are connected to a wireless hub connected to your broadband internet router thereby enabling remote signals to be exchanged between PC or Smartphone and the heating control system. With this new app you can control the temperature and timings and also set up heating programs, all of which can also be performed manually. The thermostat’s heating control system therefore acts like a smart meter and will help you to lower your energy bills by increasing the energy efficiency of your heating system.

Using this technology you could switch on the heating just as you are leaving work, meaning that you could arrive home in the middle of a rainstorm to a lovely warm house. You can also monitor just how much energy you are using without having to be at home to do it, and you can turn the system off if you suddenly find you have to stay at the office working extra hours. British Gas believes you could potentially save as much as £140 per year by using such an app, instead of having to leave the boiler running while you’re away.

Here’s the crunch though, in order to install such a system you will have to fork out at least £149 initially, which means that it will take at least year, probably longer, for the system to pay for itself. As always at present, the costs of such systems may be prohibitive, but the longer term gains if you can afford to install it, may be substantial. You also have to think carefully about installing this technology if you plan on moving house any time soon since the system remains fixed to a particular household boiler once it is installed.

You can also benefit from a number of fixed rate tariffs available on the market at present – but that’s another story.